Findlostaircraft.co.nz
This site is dedicated to all those families of the people that have tragically disappeared on flights in and around New Zealand. I only hope that from all the effort in building this site and from all the effort of those taking part in this venture, that it will bear fruit in bringing ‘closure’ to their memories!
Gavin Grimmer
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NZ5544 Corsair
North Head Boeings.
Four Royal New Zealand Air Force Corsairs from No.16 Squadron departed Ardmore
at 8.45 am, for Christchurch.
When nearing Stephens Island, they decided to change course and include a fly over
of Westport where they arrived at 10.40 am.
After circling for five minutes they then set off on a course direct to Christchurch,
flying in formation.
While flying in cloud, about ten minutes later, one of the aircraft’s motor started
running rough and they decided to return to Westport.
In the process of turning in the cloud, Corsair NZ5517 slipped out of sight and was
never seen again.
Missing: Brian Kenneth Barstow
11 November 1944
Chance-Vought Corsair NZ5517

We conducted searches in an area NW of Reefton in December 2008 and March 2009 in relation to an object I found on a 1947 aerial photograph that I believe could possibly be this missing aircraft.

Friday 27th March 2009  John Byers and myself were in AirWest Helicopters Hughes 500 ZK-HRA outbound from Reefton for a flight to the Corsair Site.

Once back on ‘terra firma’ we had quite a trek to get closer to the spot. We eventually set up camp and then walked to the edge of a plateau, to survey the situation and make plans of how we were going to accomplish the mission of checking the area out. Once we had accomplished this, we cooked and ate dinner and then went to bed for the night, ready for an early start. We were at an altitude of about 3600ft  and although I had a minus 10 degree sleeping bag, had my wooly socks and a full set of thermals on, I froze all night. John had a minus 20 degree sleeping bag and he slept like a ‘baby’- lucky him!

Next morning, after a two hour descent into the dead-ended valley below us, we were approaching the area that I had calculated the Corsair to be in. On the 1947 aerial photo that I had, it showed an area that was obviously a ridge that ran vertically down the mountain and you could see this by the white marks made by the ‘vees’ in the gull wings, gouging through the limestone ground just before it finally came to rest. The photo showed that just over this small ridge was where the object was and this turned out to be a stream. The object, if it was the Corsair, had to have been bridging this stream and broken behind the cabin, as the tail plane had to have been on an angle that was at right angles to the position of the sun for it to appear as white shown in the photo, although in reality it was painted a dark blue .

 

 

 

 

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